Archive for the ‘Tools’ Category

CUUG Talk on Cloud Computing

Wednesday, February 9th, 2011

I’ll be giving a talk at the February 22, 2011 Calgary Unix User’s Group (CUUG) meeting, updating my previous talk to CJUG two years ago.

Cloud Computing

Speaker: Tom Malaher, NetStart Consulting Ltd.

What is Cloud Computing? This talk will survey the landscape (cloudscape?), try to define cloud computing, where and how it can be used, and demo some live code running on one of the more mature offerings in a relatively new industry: Amazon Web Services or AWS.Tom Malaher has been working in the IT industry for 20+ years as a developer (C, Perl, Java, Web, SQL) and system administrator (almost every flavour of Unix known to man, and Windows only in self-defence). His current role is as an architect and back end integration (aka “glue”) developer.

Bow Valley College

332 – 6 Ave S.E.Room N-438

5:30 PM, Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Free admission for the general public.

Cloud Computing Presentation

Friday, March 13th, 2009

The presentation went well, the Elluminate software worked just fine. People reported good audio quality, and the features like “raise hand” and the chat window allowed for questions to be asked and answered during the presentation.

The screen sharing seemed to behave as expected.

I’ve made the presentation slides available for dowload: Cloud Computing Presentation to CJUG March 2009

A recording of the actual presentation is available at CJUG’s web site.

Cloud City Background

Calgary Java Users Group presentation on Cloud Computing – March 11, 2009

Monday, March 9th, 2009

I’ll be giving a presentation on Cloud Computing at the Calgary Java Users Group meeting on March 11, 2009 at 5pm MDT.

What is Cloud Computing? Every vendor seems to define it differently.

Last month’s CJUG speaker (Nikita Ivanov from GridGain) talked about how to more easily use cloud computing resources for grid computing. Of course he gave his own definition of Cloud computing…

But let’s step back a moment and try to figure out what cloud computing is all about.

This talk will survey the landscape (cloudscape?), try to define cloud computing, where it might be used, and demo some actual Java code running on one of the more mature offerings in a newborn industry: Amazon Web Services or AWS.

The presentation will actually be Virtual, using screen-sharing/conferencing software from Elluminate. If you’d like to attend, I suggest you visit the Elluminate First Time Users page to ensure your computer is configured correctly ahead of time. Be sure to go to the “Configuration Room” to set up your audio.

Note: For those of you behind corporate firewalls that need to use a proxy server, I did have some difficulty with this initially, but following these instructions: Proxy use with Elluminate Live, I was able to get it working. Specifically, I set my Java to use a hard-coded proxy server, and then when I ran the application, it still could not connect, and I then used the instructions in Step 3 (Manual proxy settings), after which things worked fine.

To quote from the CJUG page:
To join the meeting, click on this link. The Elluminate Live! software will download and run via Web Start – make sure you have Java (preferably 5 or 6) installed and allow a few minutes for a download of approximately 15Mb. You can join the meeting any time from 4.45PM onwards.

Password lockbox

Thursday, March 29th, 2007

With the advent of Sarbanes-Oxley, it seems everyone is hot to start changing their passwords on a regular basis. This is enough of a problem for people, but when systems need to use passwords to get things done automatically, it turns into a nightmare.

I started putting together a specification for a password “lockbox” that would handle this. It would have to be able to handle standalone machines that were their own security domain (e.g. Unix with local passwd file) or a group of machines that share the same password (e.g. NIS or AD). It would be nice if you could encode the password expiration policy and have the system automatically change the password for you so it wouldn’t expire. You’d want sophisticated ACLs to control who can see which passwords.

Yesterday I went to a presentation from a company about a product of theirs that seems to cover all of this and more: Cyber-Ark’s Enterprise Password Vault.

It’s not cheap, but on the old build-versus-buy continuum, I think this is one I’d rather buy.


Monday, March 19th, 2007

QueryForm: a Swing-based Java tool for editing database tables.

For those times when you just don’t want to write a CRUD interface or use raw SQL. DbVisualizer’s “Update where” and “Insert into” functionality is OK for one or two rows, but this tool lets you edit many rows almost painlessly.

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Monday, March 19th, 2007

DbVisualizer: essential tool. I practically live in it. I have it open all day every day. I use it for ad-hoc reporting, quick updates, and to build up, debug and validate the queries I put into my software. It will connect to anything that has a JDBC driver.

One of the features I’ve used is the charting of foreign-key relationships to build a cube-wall sized poster of the data model for a product we installed. I pasted together 9 letter-sized sheets (the product knows how to print the huge image in segments). Life saver.

I use the free version, and I’ve even tried out the “personal” (i.e. for-pay) version on a trial license for a while and the graphing capability was pretty fun too, but I have other ways to do that and so didn’t go for it.

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JEdit – Programmer’s Text Editor

Tuesday, December 5th, 2006

My editor of choice, when not using an IDE like NetBeans:

jEdit – Programmer’s Text Editor


  • It’s written in Java so it’s cross platform
  • It has a million plug ins that do useful things
  • Free, open source.
  • It has a nice XML/HTML editing mode that does “code completion” on tags and attributes, and gives you a tree view and validation error list.
  • It has syntax coloring for more computer languages than you can shake a Turing Machine at.
  • It can even compile and run code from within the editor, so if you don’t have an IDE, you can turn it into a poor-man’s one, or use it for languages that don’t otherwise have an IDE, like Perl.
  • It can remotely edit files over [S]FTP.
  • There’s CVS integration (…note to self: check for Subversion integration…)

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XMLmind XML Edtior

Tuesday, December 5th, 2006

Here’s a tool I really like, for editing XML files, especially ones that have useful “human readable” representations, like XHTML:

XMLmind XML Editor


  • There’s a “free” version (lacking some features). Professional version isn’t unreasonable for a single seat.
  • Written in Java so it’s cross platform
  • You can easily create new templates for new XML schemas (just create or point at a DTD and a CSS stylesheet from a valid, minimal, but otherwise empty XML file conforming to the DTD)
  • Has a plug-in architecture, and there are a few plugins you can get right from their site, as well as write your own.

I find myself using it to edit XHTML, DocBook and other XML file types (e.g. DITA).

The advantage over something like JEdit is that rather than telling you when you create invalid markup, it won’t let you create invalid markup. And it certainly won’t let you create non-well-formed markup. (If the preceeding distinction isn’t clear then read the definitions of well-formed and valid.)

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Google your Email

Monday, May 3rd, 2004

Who needs GMail? You’ve got your own CPU and Disk space, use it.

ZOE lets you read and search your email (with Lucene), without supplying helpful related advertising. Not to mention that it also has a very cool non-linear email access metaphor. Forget Inbox/Sent Mail/…customFolders.. you just browse.


Dan Moore links to a review of Zoe. I agree with much of what the reviewer says.

I’ve not had the problems with index rebuilds that he mentions.

It is a lot of files, but not much different than an equivalent MH mail store.

On the plus side, I was able to find a piece of mail that I absolutely could not find any other way. It was worth the entire download, run, import process (several hours) just to find that one piece of mail! (Outlook’s search just wouldn’t find it… i’m not sure why.)

Originally Posted May 3, 2004 12:08 PM